NOT HERSELF LATELY
nytheatre.com review by Melanie S. Armer
The premise of this three-person, three-song musical is the time-honored
story of a detective in search of a serial killer. The twist in Not
Herself Lately is given away by the title itself and revealed early
without suspense. It seems the killer’s motive is to regain her
husband’s attention. This intriguing idea is discarded quickly in favor
of the less believable one that she hates men and perhaps also wants to
feel like a man.
August 15, 2002
The program boldly claims that we will "discover how much fun a musical can be if it leaves out the usual 7 boring songs and keeps only the 3 good ones." The material seems better suited to a cabaret setting, performed by a great comedian with just a few comic bits to string together the three songs.
Neil Genzlinger has created a 35-minute script which according to its own title should be about the killer herself. Instead the plot follows the detective, Cap, played by Genzlinger. His apology in the program is surpassed only by his curtain call, made with a bag over his head. The text is punctuated with songs accompanied by Genzlinger on various acoustic stringed instruments and a bugle. The performers lack the tongue-in-cheek pizzazz required to really sell the essentially witty songs. There is no director credited, which could explain the overall blurriness of the show. The general aimlessness is manifested in the acting, costuming, and set. Some elements work in spite of themselves; the toy guns are funny. The set was so poorly constructed that parts of it actually collapsed the night that I saw it.
The most promising performance of the evening was Arvie the "pre-teen" side-kick, played the night I saw the show by Tim Nowak. His singing voice is strong and true though somewhat untrained, and his commitment is refreshing, playing moments both comic and straight.
The piece has heart behind it. The author’s use of the back page of the program (a list of books he suggests) offers insight to the true intent of this presentation: to leave intellect behind and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately the final effect is merely wandering and disorganized.